Thursday, November 22, 2007

The end for Hanlon

The writing was certainly on the wall for this one, with the Capitals in the NHL's basement.

Here was On Frozen Blog last night, after another ugly loss:
Glen Hanlon did an admirable job in his first few years. Cleaning up after the roster-gutting and the Butch Cassidy disaster, he forged a hard-working if under-talented team into a tough group. George McPhee has had his share of blunders (e.g., questionable draft picks; Trevor Linden; Robert Lang) and his share of coups (e.g., Oates to Philly for way more than he was worth; Milan Jurcina).

So who, OFB readers, is the source of the team’s current woes: the Coach, the GM, or both?
The answer, as it always unfortunately is in hockey, is that the GM gets his token firing, one last Hail Mary move to try and save his job.

George McPhee has been with the Capitals for a decade, and is ingrained in the organization as its alternate governor and vice-president. The team has had some success under his stewardship, including a trip to the Stanley Cup finals in his first season, but this year was supposed to be the beginning of the team's rise from the ashes.

Hanlon is an incredibly popular fellow in the NHL, and in Washington, and I don't think he'll have a problem finding employment as an assistant coach. His only head coaching gig amounted to putting the pieces together after a nasty firesale in 2003-04, and I honestly don't think there is the talent in D.C. for that team to be a playoff contender.

That's not the coach's doing, but so it goes.

I had a chance to meet owner Ted Leonsis briefly in Washington, and he did more than enough in that short time to convince me that his involvement in the league is a huge positive for the NHL. He thinks differently, he works hard, and most importantly, he's the biggest Capitals fan on the planet.

It's unfortunate that, despite his best efforts, the team continues to struggle, but the old adage about nice guys seems to apply. What's fair doesn't, not in professional sports, not when there are 29 other teams trying to keep you in the basement, and I think it's still going to be a long climb from there.

Alex Ovechkin isn't going to play for a loser for long, and Washington's unfortunately going to have to pony up big time to keep him in the fold.

More tough decisions are on the way.



At 12:54 p.m., November 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian Burke and John Muckler got fired but George McPhee not. Go figure.

Drafting Ovechkin was great move, right? Who else could have done that. I mean there were Mark Fistric, Devan Dybnyk and Lukas Kaspar available, too.

At 1:33 p.m., November 22, 2007, Blogger Jonathan said...

Although oddly enough Dave Tippett has yet to be fired in Dallas...

At 1:58 p.m., November 22, 2007, Blogger Adam C said...

It's really not fair to Hanlon. The Capitals deliberately went into the tank for years with him as the coach, and now that they want out they fire him?

Going from tanking to winning is not as easy as adding a couple of mid-level players.

I suppose by NHL coaching standards the Caps this year have performed to the level that gets the coach fired; it's just tough to dump on a guy who's put up with a lot and is not responsible for the problem... what's next, are they going to dump on Kolzig?

At 3:52 p.m., November 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A team that allowed 50 shots a game like WSH did last year should not have signed floaters like Nylander, Kozlov and Poti. That right there should have been McPhee's firing offence.

Having said that, the Caps look clueless out there and that's on Hanlon.

Without a dramatic change in fortune, OV will bolt. There isn't a team in the league that wouldn't willingly give him 20% of their salary cap and the numerous 1st round picks. WSH stands on the precipice.

At 4:08 p.m., November 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:50 p.m., November 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:55 a.m., November 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O'Vechkin, our Irish scorer, will play in Washington for years to come. Either he will (with his mother as an agent) sign a long-term deal or somebody will extend an multiyear offer-sheet to him which will be matched by Caps in a minute.


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